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Robert Peterson '48 April 9, 2024 3:03 PM updated: April 9, 2024 3:14 PM

Robert L. Peterson 

June 11, 1926 - February 29, 2024 

Robert Lauder Peterson, Sr. passed away on February 29, 2024, at the age of 97. Born on June 11, 1926, in Dallas, Texas, Robert's early years were marked by tragedy and hardship following the untimely death of his mother and the subsequent separation of his family during the Great Depression. Despite these challenges, he displayed resilience and determination throughout his life.

Robert cherished his family above all else. He and his wife Velma had four children: Bob Jr. (Krista), Julie (Patty), Larry (Sue), and Lucy (Rusty). His grandchildren, Aubrey (Katie), Brian, Lauren (Blake), and Alex (Ross) held a special place in his heart, and he actively participated in their lives, creating lasting memories through family vacations and visits. He also had two great grandchildren, Reagan and Luke. He was very close to his brothers and sisters throughout his life.

During his time at Lancaster High School, Robert excelled both academically and athletically, serving as the quarterback for the Tigers football team, senior class president, and salutatorian of his graduating class. His dedication to football was evident when he chose to quarterback a game instead of taking a test, a decision that prevented him from achieving the valedictorian title. Robert's passion for football extended beyond his high school years, as he remained an avid fan of the sport, particularly the Dallas Cowboys.

His love for learning and aviation led him to pursue degrees in aeronautical engineering from Texas A&M University and MIT. He contributed to significant projects such as the Apollo space program and various US defense systems. He also proudly served as a pilot in the US Air Force during the Korean War.

During his long career, he and a colleague won the Wright Brothers Medal in 1961 for work done on a soft lunar landing system. He also was recognized for his work on a laser guided system that was instrumental in ending the Gulf War.

Robert enjoyed golf, tennis, ping pong, and dominoes throughout his life. He was renowned for his skill in making delicious peanut brittle, a tradition cherished by friends, family, and neighbors during the holiday season.

In his later years, Robert faced the challenges of Alzheimer's disease with grace and humor. Despite his decline in health and his passing, his family finds comfort in knowing that he is now at peace. 


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